Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Leaving the Mental Health field

Salam and Peace to all

I recently replied to an email from my Manager regards my plans for the new term where I told him that I feel like taking a break from the Mental Health field until my own stamina is over 110%.

I never thought I'd actually say this, or realise it in this manner - but working within the mental health field does require a tough stamina; both physically and mentally. I am typing right now with a bandage on either wrist for support as it's that moment of time where my wrists are a little more 'delicate' than usual.

I have worked within mental health since 2001.. and started my job on September 10th! However, since last academic year (September 2004) my work became exclusively within the mental health field ie all my students were 'mentally unwell'. Prior to this I was teaching 'mainstream' students too.. as I was completing my teaching qualification.

The job itself was my 'dream job' and I had felt the vacancy was 'tailor-made' when my mate (and colleague since I began the teaching profession many years ago) emailed me about it.

However, it is only upon reflection that I come to realise the amount of physical stamina and energy required in the job. Teachers are meant to be happy-smiling people who go into classes and cheer up the students' world; encouraging them to broaden their horizons and tap into (and liberate) their thinking and creativity. Well at least that is what we are trained to be!

Teaching within mental health is quite different. As a starter one must be completely conscious of their own prejudices and not allow any of them to spill into their classroom practise. This means being extremely careful in using non-discriminatory language and exhibiting non-threatening body language.

The fact that someone is a teacher doesn't just mean they are employed to do a job (to teach a syllabus) to a group of people by the institution. It means more than that. Just as we are taught that the "wet nurse feeds more than milk".

It is the metaphysical entity of the one known as a "teacher" which adds to their job descriptor.

Back on track: In mental health teaching, from my own experience..

It is of paramount importance to be conscious of the student: both as a learner aswell as someone who is recovering from a 'flu of the mind' as I call it. Thus an element of the job is about working towards a balance of this dual understanding of the student one works with.

As a teacher you are in a unique role; for you are neither a social/care worker nor a nurse/counsellor to the individual you work with. You are a Teacher. Something quite different. You care and counsel but essentially teach.

This is something to celebrate as you 'come in contact' with the individual during the period of time where they are trying to 'move' towards some form of normality. You are a rehabilitator. The difference a good teacher could make to a learner is immensely rewardable.

It is a great position to be in, the fact that you have a relationship with the student for x number of weeks means you are able to see the students' progress. This mimics our own successes in life too.

Taking a step outside of the mental health field I actually feel a little numb at the moment. I have no clue why I am moving away from the job I love and the field I find so rewarding. It is a job that I would come back home to feeling like a human each day.

I spent half of the daylight hours of yesterday in bed and (if it wasn't for the daily prayers a Muslim must tend to) would have spent most of it in bed - My levels of energy and concentration seem to be becoming shorter and shorter.

I can only hope that these next few months will help me attain a level of 'good health' suitable for returning to normality. In the meantime I would recommend folk to move into the mental health field if that is their interest. It is a field which needs more creative energy today than ever before.. I shall blog this some time soon InshaAllah.. For now, I need my sleep.

Peace and Prayers
Bint-eh Adam
x x
Where's your nose Bhaji-Jaani??

Mines' here:

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